I have been watching some of my favorite Christmas movies the past two weeks. Great movies. Movies like It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Movies that remind us of who we SHOULD be and how we SHOULD live our lives.
For instance, it would be nice to be able to look back at our life and hopefully see we made an impact on others. A positive impact on our family, on our friends, on our work place, and on our community.
We all want to feel that we have value, to be significant. To feel that others value us as well. To feel that in some small way, we have made a difference. We want to be George Bailey, like he was portrayed in It’s A Wonderful Life.
Or, we wish we could have a second chance, like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. We can, if we honestly examine ourselves today and be determined to fix our flaws, determined to change for the better, determined to help others.
Look at George Bailey. I wish I was more like George Bailey. He always put the needs of his family and his community ahead of his own desires. I have that desire to put my needs behind the needs of others, but I cannot say I always accomplish it. In the movie, George has some opportunities to leave his town of Bedford Falls and travel the world, but he always made the decision to stand by his community and his principles.
Now, let’s look at Ebenezer Scrooge. Are we guilty of some of his choices he made in his life? As Scrooge did, are we not guilty of maybe getting disconnected from our own pasts as we grow older and maybe focus too much on our work? Do we sometimes forget the people and the things that were the most important to us when we were younger? Do we shield ourselves from the needs of others, losing our compassion because there are so many people and organizations asking for help?
When we see the commercials from the Red Cross for aid to Houston because of flooding, or the request for donations to help the tragedy in Las Vegas, or the images by the Humane Society of animals in danger, do we get numb to all of the pain and needs in the world? Do you look the other way, or speed up when you see a person standing by the road with a sign asking for help?
I have been in Cleveland for five years. I must admit I have seen some Scrooges since I have been here, but every town has some Scrooges. But I have seen many, many more George Baileys since I have been here I am proud to say. It never amazes me how our County rises to the occasion, responding to the needs of others, often at the expense of one’s own needs.
I see hundreds of families bring canned goods, toys and desserts for Helping Hands and the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department. I have seen our students at Bayou Academy give of their time and their money when a classmate has lost her home and all of her possessions in a fire. I know that students in the Cleveland School District have done the same in similar situations.
I am glad people assist Helping Hands because, to be honest, there is no need for anyone to go hungry in Cleveland. God has blessed this community, and as long as we are faithful to serve, honor and obey Him, He will continue to do so.
Let me get my thoughts of the Grinch out of the way now because I want this article to make people feel positive and happy that we can make our New Year a better one for us, but most importantly, for others. And trust me, I have more to work on than anyone else I know to be a better person, so I am not trying to point out other’s faults-I have more than enough of my own. But, I do see some mistakes great people and great parents make.
First, it is ok if your child does not make straight A’s. In fact, if all of the parents who wanted their children to make straight A’s did, I can guarantee you we would not be teaching. Sometimes, the B or even the C your child gets is ok, especially if it was the best he or she could do. Some subjects, we just cannot master, that is life. We are not perfect, including your child.
I wish parents would not ask if the teacher or the school could help their child improve their grade sometimes. Believe it or not, we all procrastinate, get lazy, or just do not give our best effort. To try and cover that up by giving the child extra credit or another opportunity never lets that situation become a learning situation. There are consequences when we do not give our best. The best thing we can teach our children and each other is to give our best effort, at all times, in all things. And when we do not give our best effort, accept the consequences, but be determined to do better the next time. That is good advice for all of us, children or adults.
Lastly, why do calm, intelligent people, who are kind and generous, change at sporting events? I have witnessed people who never raise their voice in their daily life yell and scream at umpires or referees. It is like Jekyll and Hyde. But it is not good when referees have to warn us to be quiet, and I know that some of our children wish we would not act like that. Also, it never really makes a referee or umpire decide to make a different call because we are yelling at them.
I am sad to admit some parents would rather lose a game as long as their child does well. What lesson are we teaching a child to say that it does not matter if you win the basketball game, it is more important that you score a lot of points, score a touchdown, have 15 tackles or score a goal instead.
I think that there would be a lot less Grinch in us, if we just closed our eyes and saw nothing but ourselves and how we look and who we are. God blinded Paul for three days. Think about that, for three days Paul could see nothing. All he could see eventually was deep inside himself. When he finally saw himself and the way he was, he knew he needed to change and to be a different person. Our inner mirror never lies when we really look only at ourselves.
But back to the good things in life. Remember a great line Cary Grant spoke in the movie The Bishop’s Wife. He said, “The truly happy people are the ones who live life here on earth as if they were in heaven.” These are the people who see the brightness of the moon at night, and the countless stars. They see that the greatest gift they can give to others is their time, their kindness, their concern and their love. They look for ways to help, rather than ways to avoid being asked. These people, and there are so many I have come to know, open their eyes and then open their hearts. They want to serve, rather than be served.
These people understand failure. Failure finds us all at some time. These people did not let failure define them, or weigh them down. Who knows what failure, or in my case, failures, happened to them? Maybe a lost job, a failed school test, maybe dropping out of college, a failed marriage, a lost opportunity, or a grave sin? But these people who have been able to not be a Scrooge also decided not to let failure prevent them from a living a better life. These people did not sentence themselves to a life of misery. Instead, they learned from the mistakes of yesterday, and gave their best effort today to do right, and prayed that they will do even better tomorrow. They know that there is no future in the past. They moved forward, most under God’s plan, desiring to make things better for everyone.
I pray each of you has a blessed holiday season and that the New Year will bring you what you are asking for, but please remember when you take the children around to see the beautiful new Christmas lights that adorns Main Street and the area homes, that the Christmas lights are to remind us of the TRUE light- the light of Jesus Christ. And, that we should reflect that light within us always for others to see.
Dr. David Granville is Headmaster of Bayou Academy